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Heritage’s 15 Percent robotics team wins state title

Coach Laura Minor signals "Number 1" for the 15 Percent team from Heritage Elementary School, which won the championship at the Alabama State FIRST LEGO League Tournament. (CONTRIBUTED)
Coach Laura Minor signals “Number 1” for the 15 Percent team from Heritage Elementary School, which won the championship at the Alabama State FIRST LEGO League Tournament. (CONTRIBUTED)
Heritage's Patent Protectors Robotics Team proudly wears their first-place medals as winners in robot programming. (CONTRIBUTED)
Heritage’s Patent Protectors Robotics Team proudly wears their first-place medals as winners in robot programming. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Heritage Elementary School has the best robotics teams overall and in programming in the state.

Two Heritage teams competed at the Alabama State FIRST LEGO League Tournament at Grissom High School on Jan. 24. Middle and elementary schools advanced from regional tournaments across the state.

Heritage’s 15 Percent team won the first-place state championship. This award represents “the best in all areas of robot performance, research, project presentation and teamwork,” coach and Heritage gifted specialist Laura Minor said.

Members of 15 Percent are Jeremy Anderson, Lauren Assaf, Emma Drake, Jackson Lanier, Kaya Lyons and Duke Yeom. “It’s very unusual for an elementary team to win the actual state championship,” Heritage Principal Dr. Georgina Nelson said.

Heritage’s Patent Protectors team with fifth- and sixth-graders won first place in robot programming. “Judges felt their programs were innovative and efficient. They worked together as a team to decide how to best conquer the table missions and then developed and refined programs to make the robot move quickly and with precision,” Minor said.

Patent Protectors’ roster includes Caitlyn Johnson, Ethan King, Tyler Nix, Owen Racelis, Max Shah, Anna Vogler and Charlie Welsch.

Teachers and professionals from companies in Cummings Research Park and Redstone Arsenal judged the entries.

“Jefferson,” 15 Percent’s robot, performed numerous functions with a powerful EV3 computer core, motors and sensors. Jefferson used “color, light, touch and gyroscopic sensors to find its position and gather information of its surroundings, compute further actions, activate an attachment or move itself,” Minor said.

Independently without help, Jefferson threw a ball, followed lines and used a gyro sensor to find its position on the board. “The EV3 brick/computer and motors allowed for multiple computing and processes, such as rotations, sensing a color and then pulling out a loop of the correct color,” Minor said.

Currently, 15 Percent is assessing costs to attend the world invitational tournament at LEGOland in California on May 14-17. They also have a guaranteed invitation to a national tournament at the University of Arkansas.

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